On Sunday, July 1, European Cruise Service, in cooperation with the French tour operator Taaj, handled one of the largest turnaround operations that have ever taken place in Northern Norway.
Embarking passengers arrived on five chartered aircraft from the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to Langnes airport in Tromsø. The 700 disembarking passengers were transported from Prostneset in downtown Tromsø, where Costa Voyager was moored, to the airport in Tromsø, barely 4 km from the port.
No less than 18 buses, four lorries, 15 French-speaking guides, two large tents and a handful of local suppliers were all involved in the process. Both the airport and port had increased their staff considerably to ensure that everything ran smoothly.
Sundays are one of two peak days at the airport each week. On this specific Sunday, there was an additional challenge as the Midnight Sun Marathon was held in Tromsø, and many athletes were leaving the same time as the cruise passengers. Even so, everything appeared to run smoothly, as confirmed by both Avinor (which owns most civil airports in Norway) and the local cruise agent.
“This was brilliant,” said Francisco Damm from Arctic Guide Service after the operation was conducted Sunday afternoon. Ivar Helsing Schrøen from Avinor gave the same reply: “Brilliant!”
In barely two weeks Tromsø has turned around 3000 passengers from four different ships. “We think this is the beginning of something massive in Northern Norway. Several cruise lines will discover turnaround opportunities in the northernmost part of Europe, and use this to shorten the sailing time for their passengers,” says the Managing Director of Cruise Northern Norway & Svalbard, Erik Joachimsen. “The North Cape/Lakselv, Tromso, Harstad/Narvik (Evenes airport) and the Bodø area all offer good opportunities, depending on the companies’ needs and wishes. We will work with both the industry and the authorities to facilitate such operations, and to secure that future operations are at least as successful as what we experienced in Tromsø on July 1 this year.”
Finally, we will quote the tour manager at Costa Voyager: “Today the whole operation ran smoothly, from the beginning to the end… thanks a lot:”- Antonella Landi, Tour Manager, Costa Voyager.
View photos from the Costa Voyager turnaround operation.
Efforts are also being made to develop several potential turnaround sites in the north. There are three airports in Northern Norway that can accommodate wide body aircraft: Lakselv (North Cape), Evenes (Harstad and Narvik) and Bodø. Click here to read more.
North Cape is the site that has come furthest. Here Lakselv is promoted as a turnaround site. Plans are being made to install a SeaWalk, a Norwegian developed system that facilitates the transport of passengers between ship and shore.